Obama Pitches Health Care Overhaul In Wisconsin

President Obama paid a quick visit to Green Bay, Wis., Thursday, pitching his health care overhaul and taking town-hall questions in a high school gym. Obama said Americans happy with their doctor or their health care plan ought to be able to keep them, but that costs had to come down and coverage had to be extended to all.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

President Obama is taking his push for health care reform on the road. As Congress wrangles over details of a bill, the president went to Green Bay, Wisconsin today. It was his latest town hall-style meeting. Mr. Obama warned again about the skyrocketing cost of health care.

President BARACK OBAMA: We have the most expensive health care system in the world.

NORRIS: So, Mr. Obama says, he wants to replicate the best practices found in places that get better results with less money.

Pres. OBAMA: Turns out Green Bay is a good example. Right here in Green Bay you get more quality out of fewer health care dollars than many other communities across this country.

(Soundbite of applause)

Pres. OBAMA: This is something to be proud of.

NORRIS: Mr. Obama was greeted warmly by the crowd. But on the way to the event, a couple of hundred protesters lined up on the side of the road. There were signs that read: No socialism, and have you paid enough taxes yet? The president emphasized repeatedly that people who like their health care plans will not be forced to change.

Pres. OBAMA: What we are working on is the creation of something called the health insurance exchange, which would allow you to one-stop shop for a health care plan, compare benefits and prices, choose the plan that's best for you. If you're happy with your plan, you keep it. None of these plans, though, would be able to deny coverage on the basis of preexisting conditions.

(Soundbite of applause)

NORRIS: But, he said, there will be more competition.

Pres. OBAMA: If the private insurance companies have to compete with a public option, it'll keep them honest and it'll keep - help keep their prices down.

(Soundbite of applause)

NORRIS: Mr. Obama pointed more than once to Green Bay as an example of what he wants to do.

Pres. OBAMA: We have to ask why places like Geisinger Health Systems in rural Pennsylvania, or Intermountain Health in Salt Lake City or communities like Green Bay can offer high quality care at costs well below average, but other places in America can't.

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